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Taking control of the Student Tournament and becoming no. 1 in Japan for the first time in 15 years!
The real thrill of student level shogi is in the team competitions

Waseda University Shogi Club
Yuya Terao (right)
Kaito Takahashi (left)

In December of last year at the Student Oza Tournament, where the number one student shogi group in Japan is determined, the Waseda University Shogi Club achieved victory, winning for the first time in 15 years to take its seventh title. The Student Oza Tournament is a round-robin league match between 10 universities, and the seven members of each team play all at once during each match. As veteran schools from throughout the country, survivors of regional preliminary contests, jostled for victory, Waseda won all nine of its bouts. Waseda achieved a flawless victory.

The Ricoh Cup, where groups compete to be number one in Japan. Amidst unbelievable absences of some of the strongest players due to heavy snows, Terao is in intense competition with a powerful opponent.

Yuya Terao, who served as team captain last year, said the following on looking back at the Oza Tournament. “Being able to beat the University of Tokyo and Kyoto University, powerful rivals of ours, was everything. Although tournament favorite Ritsumeikan University was our opponent in the final round, because we could win the tournament with a single victory, we were able to relax and focus on the game. I believe that being able to display our abilities without getting caught up in the pressure of appearing on the big stage was the main factor in our victory." Kaito Takahashi, who contributed significantly to the tournament victory by being the only member of the team to win all nine of his games despite being a first year student at the time, built on Terao's comments. “Because [Yusuke] Yamada, a famous student player in our club, would be graduating and wouldn't be able to participate in the next tournament, I felt that last year had to be the year that we won. However, even I was surprised with how much pressure I felt in the tournament compared with individual competitions. You only experience this kind of excitement in a group tournament."

As Takahashi states, “group tournaments" in shogi are not very familiar to most people. Shogi is seen as an earnest one-on-one battle where participants use their minds to read their opponent's moves dozens in advance. This is the image that many people have: one of an individual competition. This was no exception for Terao or Takahashi. Both are truly skilled players, enough to have once aimed to become professionals. Terao has achieved impressive victories at national tournaments since he was in elementary school. Takahashi also won consecutive championships as a high school “Ryuo" (lit. “dragon king," a term used to describe a promoted rook in shogi). For these two, who have achieved impressive titles as famous amateur shogi players by themselves, team competitions were uncharted territory.

“Until I entered university I had never played a team competition. In a team competition, you can win your game and still lose as a team, and the reverse is also true. Before, I had never even thought about teamwork being necessary in shogi," said Terao. “When you play in a team competition, you feel even more that you can't lose. No matter how bad game conditions are, you just can't give up until the very end. That's because it will influence other games," said Takahashi.

The Waseda Shogi Club is filled with individualistic members, starting with Terao and Takahashi. Although they devote themselves to their individual styles each day, they have gained a new weapon in “teamwork" as part of their university shogi experience, and they continue to advance as players. At the Ricoh Cup Amateur Shogi Team Japan Championship, where the top adult and amateur teams compete, they defeated the famous Ricoh team with a narrow margin of four wins to three losses. This amazing achievement is the first time for the Waseda Shogi Club in 17 years.

Takahashi obtained a major title shortly after entering the club. Perhaps he's already burned out? “Not at all! Although I've been playing shogi since elementary school, I still don't know all the tricks needed to win. It's that depth which makes it so interesting. Because there are so many strong players at Waseda, I am convinced that I can become much stronger." We look forward to seeing what great achievements the young players of the Waseda University Shogi Club will make in the future.

The members of the Shogi Club which achieved victory at the Student Oza Tournament held in Yokkaichi, Mie Prefecture.

In addition to playing against other members in the club room, the members research shogi problems and standard shogi moves each day.

At a shogi training camp. Because club ranking is determined through internal tournaments, each game is played with complete seriousness.

(Offered By:WASEDA WEEKLY)

Yuya Terao (right)
Fourth Year, School of Fundamental Science and Engineering

Originally from Fukui Prefecture, Yuya Terao graduated from Fujishima High School. 2013 team captain. In high school he achieved fame as a famous finalist shogi player. His strategy focuses on the Yagura castle and boldness characterizes his style of play.

Kaito Takahashi (left)
Second Year, School of Education

Originally from Niigata Prefecture, Kaito Takahashi graduated from Niigata Senior High School. In high school he won successive championships as the high school “Ryuo" (a term which describes a promoted rook in shogi). Believing that one cannot win at the university level without one's own style, he is currently intensively studying the “furibisha" openings.